Coles supermarkets' partnership with Palantir Technologies, a US defence contractor, to analyse vast amounts of data should send shivers down the spine of supermarket workers and shoppers alike.
Their stated aim is to ‘enhance operations, optimise workforce management, and cut costs.’
This development underscores the increasing use of surveillance technology, or 'bossware,' in everyday business operations.
While Coles presents itself as forward-thinking, the deal highlights the shift towards data-driven decision-making in industries like grocery retail, and prompts questions about the ethical and safety implications of relying on technology to manage labour and customer interactions.
Coles' reliance on Palantir's technology may lead to dependence, potentially affecting its autonomy and decision-making processes. Moreover, there are concerns Palantir's data-driven approach inadequately considers Coles’ statutory occupational health and safety duties.
Focusing solely on data overlooks staff and customer safety and raises concerns that when decisions are made based on data there is potential that worker and customer safety and right to privacy are overlooked.
For HSRs these considerations are of primary concern. Unions need to critically assess Coles' decision particularly regarding what we already know about the safety implications of algorithmic management practices.
Source: The Conversation, Feb 8